By Michael Kelly
DUBLIN (CNS) – The Irish government announced it will hold a referendum in late May asking citizens whether they want to retain or delete the constitutional article that provides for the equal right to life of the mother and her unborn child “with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother.”
If passed, the vote would allow parliament to legislate for abortion. Health Minister Simon Harris has said in this case he would bring forward a proposal to permit abortion on request up to eight weeks’ gestation.
But Ireland’s leading pro-life advocacy group has warned that any dilution to the country’s constitutional protection for the unborn will inevitably lead to abortion on demand.
Ruth Cullen, Pro Life Campaign spokeswoman, said, “It is a very sad and serious moment for our country.
“The government brought forward a proposal that for the first time in our history would withdraw basic human rights from a group of vulnerable, defenseless individuals instead of strengthening their constitutional protections,” she said.
She added that the government cannot disguise how its proposal is solely about stripping unborn babies of all meaningful legal protections.
“The right to life is an inalienable right. It’s not something that can be conferred or withheld by the state at its pleasure. The Eighth Amendment acknowledges this basic right to life; it doesn’t claim to be its initiator – merely its protector,” she said.
Cullen predicted that in the coming weeks, it will become clear that the government’s proposal would lead to abortion on demand if passed in the referendum.
“As people come to realize this, I have every confidence they will vote to retain the Eighth Amendment with a renewed commitment to building a more welcoming society for expectant mothers and their unborn babies,” she said.
The Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference said that it would start
circulating a weekly newsletter to parishes and religious communities ahead of the vote. Choose Life 2018, “promotes the church’s position on unborn human life.